«Fear and terror of discovering a book.»
Several books have been published in Norway. Many would say abnormally because of our generous schemes of support. We can afford it, and that’s how it should be. But it also means that there are many good Norwegian authors that we miss in the media, and of publishers and booksellers who see themselves as more profitable by investing in a few bestsellers. The losers are, of course, the readers, but they are also the poor writers. This includes Runar Dahle, who despite the previous three versions, at least for me is a new acquaintance. It is – or his book – a discovery.
The year 2029, we are in Bergen. Kristen is six years old. She does not talk or play with other children. She hasn’t done so since one day her parents found an old man’s coat and fillet knife in her closet. The girl who went from a happy, sociable and intelligent toddler, to an introverted and restless girl eventually with a glassy appearance, says she belongs to Tom. She only speaks through the invisible Tom.
By the way, it is no longer invisible after a while, with elements of horror that might resemble an “Exorcist”. Mother Camilla sees a figure watching them, hears noises, the smell of corpses seeping from the basement. Other unusual things happen. In the zoo, where the mother works, the orangutan is mysteriously released. They have become aggressive and there is an emergency in the city.
As much a horror novel, the book offers an incredibly insightful, elegant, witty, and tragic look into the shortcomings of psychiatry. The question is how do we deal with psychotic patients – or delusions. The parents take Kristen to BUP where she is screened for possible autism, organ retention, and trauma. Nothing helps.
In parallel – and this parallel story is my favorite – we gain insight into the history of psychiatry. It began in 1902. At that time, the Rönvik mental hospital was built in Bodø – and it is still standing there. Here Dahley sweeps up fluidly and elegantly by Freud and Jung and the brutal experiment of Social Darwinism. to the post-war period who chose to leave psychotic patients in their obsession: “In late 1946 it was not uncommon to see Jesus wandering through Juncker’s grounds and freezing, in his robe and sandals, while Judas was seated. Occupational therapy and Norwegian flags sew and their money happens in secret.”
Until entering the pharmaceutical industry, Haldol took Young’s place. This is shown by chief medical officer Albert Weisbeck, his son who became a psychiatrist (pseudoscience according to his father). to the grandson of Thomas; Nerd and hyper-intelligence, live through virtual reality. It has been elegantly done, curious and intelligent, original and humorous. Admittedly, the ending is a bit surprising.
But – we want more of Dahle, so much more.
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